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From SMITE World Championship to Fortnite Invitational Host: Kelly Link shares her insight from working in esports cover image

From SMITE World Championship to Fortnite Invitational Host: Kelly Link shares her insight from working in esports

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“They inspired me to be better so that I could give the fans a show they deserved.”

Working in esports is the dream for quite a few people. Whether that be competing, casting and more, esports has become the skyscraper of opportunities for individuals.
For one esports enthusiast, her career jumpstarted in 2012 when she started streaming on Twitch, which has brought her to the center stage for many different tournaments.
Here is Kelly Link's story.
Back in 2012, Link was finishing up a degree in education, working as an intern at a middle school. It was not until those final moments of her college years that she realized she was meant for something different.
"I realized halfway through my final year that being a teacher was not something I wanted to do", said Link.
Life does not always work out the way you initially planned, and for Link, this was a blessing.
Kelly Link at DreamHack via Twitter
Kelly Link at DreamHack via Twitter
"A friend mentioned that I should stream on Twitch, simply because I would play Diablo 3 all day", said Link when talking about the start of her esports career. "Twitch was pretty new, and I had no intentions of making this into a career".
But what started as a fun hobby, soon turned into much more.
"My first year streaming ended up being extremely successful", said Link. "I was then contacted by 'Hi-Rez Studios' to work for them full-time as a community coordinator and streamer."
A new life had officially begun for Kelly Link, as she began her journey into the esports space.
Beginning her career in the casting and hosting space for esports, Link was brought on by SMITE as one of their official hosts. This was a huge leap for her career.
"SMITE will always be near and dear to me", said Link. "It is where I started in the industry. It is where I grew and trained to become the host I am today."
The game was small at the time and was competing heavily against other MOBAs such as League of Legends and DOTA.
"The passion from the community was incredible", said Link when talking about the beginning of her SMITE experience. "They inspired me to be better so that I could give the fans a show they deserved."
With such a vast history in the SMITE scene, Link has earned her spot amongst the greats, announcing just the other day that she will be returning to the SMITE stage for the 2023 World Championship.
This marks 10 years of her working for the game.
Closing off 2022 with the Fortnite Invitational and DreamHack Atlanta, Link was able to bring her A-Game to the table for these massive in-person events. With 2023 at its forefront, Link shared with me how excited she is to explore the LAN scene once again.
"As nice as it was working from the comfort of my home, online events simply can't compare to in-person tournaments", said Link. "The energy and emotion you feel hearing thousands of fans cheering on their favorite player or team remind me every time why I am here and how fortunate I am to work in esports."
The realm of esports still has so much to explore. With the rise of the industry and in-person events returning, there is such a large amount of opportunities that we are about to experience.
"As we saw in 2022, more events are slowly shifting to in-person with live audiences. I am very hopeful for LANs to make a comeback in 2023."
With so many tournaments already set for the year, Link and everyone else here at esports.gg are extremely hopeful for the future of LANs.
The esports world is fickle, and working in it can be a pain at times, but that is just a part of the journey. To create a career in esports, one has to expect hard times. Link shared her advice for those looking to jumpstart their esports career.
"First and foremost, make a highlight reel", said Link when talking about how to enter the esports space. "Even if you have never worked on an official event, then make the clips yourself."
Kelly Link at FNCS Invitational via Twitter
Kelly Link at FNCS Invitational via Twitter
You may be wondering how someone could make those clips without working on an event. Link has got the answers.
"Cast over videos of old tournaments, your friends' games, interview people on the street, anything", said Link. "A company won't know what you can bring to the table as talent unless you show them what you can do, and a highlight reel is one of the best ways to do just that."

So, how does one get their reels in front of the right people?

The tough part about all of this is having a company want to look at you. Link provided me with some helpful insight.
"Contact people", said Link. "No one is going to know you want to work on a game as talent unless you reach out and let them know."
The space is constantly growing. If you want to be a part of it, you have to assert yourself within it.
"Almost all esports productions and leagues have coordinators, directors and managers on social media", said Link. "Message or email them explaining what you want to do and what you can provide for them as talent. Sending your highlight reel will help in showing them what you can offer."
But with all the excitement, there are still dark days working in this industry.
"As unfortunate as it is, expect very little", said Link. "Many experienced hosts and casters will mention how they worked for free or very little at the start of their career."
Kelly Link casting from home via Twitter
Kelly Link casting from home via Twitter
Working in this industry is by no means an easy feat. Challenging times lie with the territory.
"Even after becoming established in a game, the world of esports is volatile and constantly changing, talent is no exception."
You have to be willing to adapt to every situation, understanding that you may not know just where your next job will come from.

"Esports is a labor of love and with that comes heartbreak."

Kelly Link
"There may be months you work every weekend, traveling constantly. Followed by months of not getting a single gig", said Link. "Esports is a labor of love and with that comes heartbreak."
Although this industry can be trying at times, there are still so many benefits that outweigh even the largest con.
We live in a judgemental world, and those who seem to face the harshest critics sometimes are women. With the industry growing at such a fast pace, Link shares her insight on how to deal with the trolls and unwanted criticism seen within the esports and gaming community.
"As it is with any career in gaming and social media, you will face harsh harassment", said Link.
She has been in the industry for over 10 years now. There is no doubt that she has had to experience a career ostracized by trolls and incels within the community.
"I can not confidently say, 'ignore them and don't take the comments to heart', because that would make me a hypocrite", said Link. "Many talent will tell you not to read them, but I always do."
These statements do not change Link though.
"I use these comments as inspiration to improve", said Link. "My priority as a host is to make the best show I possibly can and to do that I want to listen to the people that are watching."
Every industry comes with its valid and invalid criticism. As society works to be better, we can only hope that the esports and gaming industries do the same. Link's story only shows us that we can all be the best person we are meant to be, and overcome any obstacle thrown in our way.
Stay tuned to esports.gg for more news and interviews.
Bryson Maddock
Bryson Maddock
Editor | Twitter @unamusedbryson
Bryson Maddock is an avid esports enthusiast and writer who has developed a strong connection with the world of esports. Outside of writing, Bryson also is a professional esports caster and developed twitch streamer.